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A blend of cool projects, great gadgets and awesomellany from Word of Mouth Internet Sherpa Brady Carlson
Your weekly supplement of awesome links goes by the brand name Here's What's Awesome and is best taken externally every weekend. Side effects are rare, but ask your blogreader if Here's What's Awesome is right for you.
Snazzier than "PED XING"
You'll be forgiven for driving through Lyon, France, and thinking that you've gone bonkers: a new citywide art project called Panos 2013 is filling the streets with fake road signs. As they say, "the round red and white signs look enough like real European traffic signs that you might take them for granted, but weird enough if you notice them to make you stop and think." Don't miss the psychedelic eyeball and the creepy smiling coffin signs as you browse through the gallery. [Presurfer]
James Bond and Felix Leiter are now friends via the Spies You May Know tool.
A "Facebook for spies" is not quite what a Facebook for the rest of us is like - it's a social network, yes, but they're not throwing sheep at each other or sharing movie quotes on SuperWall. The function of "A-Space," as it's called, is for intelligence workers to bounce ideas and information off their colleagues. If you start to notice, say, a certain suspicious character using a credit card in an unusual way, you could see if anyone else has had a similar experience. The usual questions about intelligence-gathering - like privacy issues and whether access is protected enough for classified information to be secured - are being asked, but officials say they'll be lifestreaming the users as well, to make sure no one's asking suspicious questions. [CNet]
if you're a true friend, you'll write back!
Had your fill of forwarded jokes, poems and chain letters? StopForwardingUs is the only slightly passive-aggressive answer to your prayers. It lets you send an anonymous note to that friend or coworker who can't resist sending the $250 cookie recipe one last time asking them to be a bit more thoughtful in their e-mail correspondence. [Lifehacker]
Now it's your turn. Share your own awesome links in the comments. We promise not to turn you into StopForwardingUs if you do.
(Photo by biphop)
update 3/11/10- changed StopForwardingUs link as per comment below
Welcome to Awesomeville! I'm Brady, your guide, and on behalf of Mayor Prescott and the city council, we bid you welcome with some links to enjoy while we wait for news on Hurricane Ike.
Alternative energy, or Muppet Show sketch?
There's no shortage of new ideas on creating energy from cleaner, more renewable resources, but here's one you might not have been expecting: Chicken power is coming to The Netherlands! "Last week Dutch agriculture minister Gerda Verburg announced a groundbreaking development for the field as she unveiled the world’s largest biomass power plant to run exclusively on poultry manure. The plant will convert a third of the nation’s chicken waste into energy while running at a capacity of 36.5 megawatts - enough to power 90,000 homes!" [Inhabitat]
Metal Gear 4: coming to your Intellivision
Most gamers appreciate the exciting innovations that have come with more powerful video game systems: cinematic sequences, more complex storylines and realistic character movements. But they also have a soft spot for the old school games, even if the original Frogger is barely more than a green square who bleeps his way across a pretty boxy highway. A new game trend is to bring new and old together into what's called a "demake" - a new game that's redesigned for play on an old system. The Independent Gaming Source recently held a demakes contest, with several dozen of today's popular games reimagined for the Atari 2600 and other past systems. Step forward into the past. [Wired]
Better To Burn Out Than To Flame Away
A little red landmine-looking device that puts out fires and keeps victims and firefighters out of harm's way? Meet the FIT-5 (FIT stands for "Fire Interruption Technology"). In short, it's a fire grenade - pull the ripcord, throw it toward the fire and watch the "wispy cloud of potassium carbonate" control or even extinguish the flames. It's considered a big step forward for keeping firefighters safe - because it can go where they can't - and it can save hundreds of gallons of water per fire. [Scientific American]
Now it's your turn. Share your own awesome links in the comments.
(Photo by mrhappy)
Word of Mouth's weekly compendium of links is back! Here is, as we say, what's awesome:
I will turn your desert green
The already huge African Sahara expands every year, crowding out already limited resources in northern Africa. But what if there was a way to turn the desert heat into a source of energy and clean water? The Sahara Forest Project says it has a plan to do just that - using heat and light from the sun to convert sea water into fresh water, which can then be used to grow crops that can be turned into biofuels. There's no shortage of ambition here - nor a shortage of questions, including who's going to pay the $100 million-plus needed. We may find out the answers when the Sahara Forest Project is presented at the Future of Science Conference in Venice. [Inhabitat]
Leaving on a jet plane - eventually
If terraforming the largest desert in the world doesn't sound bold enough, how about putting an end to airline delays? Researchers at MIT have built the Route Availability Planning Tool, which compiles flight paths and weather data to give air traffic controllers a potential way to get planes in the air when bad weather interferes with the original schedule. Preliminary testing in New York has saved thousands of hours in delays, which, of course, saves money as well. [Wired]
Come on feel the noise
Barking tree frogs are the latest member of the animal kingdom to use science in their busy lives. Females of this species prefer males with a louder call, believing them to be bigger and stronger. But a researcher at James Madison University in Virginia found that how they determine the loudest call is fairly complex. If a quieter male is nearer to the female, making him sound louder where she's standing, the female will still choose the male who's further away. This explains why there were so many barking tree frogs at the Who concert in Charlton. [NewScientist]
Now it's your turn. What awesome links have you found this week? Share your favorites in the comments.
(Photo by Aleksey Krapukhin)
Welcome back to our Friday cavalcade of links we call Here's What's Awesome:
It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good
Hybrid car owners get tax breaks. Employers in big cities offer discounts for bus and subway riders. But where's the love for bicycles? It's (finally) on the way, reports Wired. Google, Humana and other employers are offering a variety of reimbursements, credits and rewards to those who choose bicycles for their daily commutes (To those who got the reference at the start of this section, no company is offering incentives for having a clan of gingerbread men, sorry.) [Wired]
See all photos tagged with "urban decay"
Keyword tags make the internet great. They organize content and put similar bits of information a little closer together, but they also lead in fun (search YouTube for the tag "Kitten") and sometimes unexpected directions (for an edition of NHPR's The Exchange I put a photo gallery together of photos tagged with the word "patriotism" and found a wide range of ideas and reflections).
A site called Weburbanist is pointing out some unusual keyword tags on Flickr - abandoned buildings. Take a look through the collections of dead malls or even former mental asylums, and you'll find more than a few stories that you didn't expect to read when you work up this morning. [Weburbanist]
Somehow the web gets faster
Just when your dad finally figured out what a URL was, a new tool for Firefox comes along and threatens to make our painfully-acquired web knowledge obsolete. Ubiquity is a tool that shortens the taskflow for some common web tasks - you can write messages on Gmail or Twitter, or search on Wikipedia or YouTube without having to go to each individual site. I'm going to test this out over the weekend and report back next week; if you're a Ubiquity user, let me know what you think in the comments field. [Presurfer]
(Photo by sandcastlematt)
You're Frosting It Wrong
The latest Internet meme, known as "You're Doing It Wrong" or "Epic Fail," examines photographic moments where things are just not how they're supposed to be - a bus parked on top of a car, or a security camera facing a wall. With plenty of blogs covering the general "You're Doing It Wrong" world, we now have specialized blogs to provide detail and nuance in specific areas of failure Witness Cake Wrecks, which features less-thought-out dessert concepts like spiny puffer fish cakes, or a cake that was supposed to have the Olympic rings on it but instead got the words "Olympic Rings" written in quotes. One bride had a life-size wedding cake of herself, which probably had guests thumbing through their etiquette guides between courses. [via Mental Floss]
It's Famous For It's Sustainability... Just Listen To It
Eco-friendly guitars have arrived. They use bamboo and other more earth-friendly materials to add a different kind of sustain to the music. It'll be interesting to see how guitar players respond to the new guitars, since the wood used to make a guitar makes a huge difference in the guitar's sound. [Wired]
Almost Cut My Hair
Art in unlikely places? Here's another one: handpainted barber signs in The Gambia. These are painted mural-style on the side of shops in West Africa to entice customers, but taken together they comprise a mini-history of style in this part of the world. [Arkitip]
Now it's your turn. Share an awesome link in the comments!
(Photo by Terriko)
Hope your Friday is as awesome as the set of weekly links we call Here's What's Awesome.
Now Available as MP3, CD, Triple LP and Lamp Soot Etchings
It's not often that Word of Mouth showcases new music that's older than the Civil War, but here we are. A group of audio researchers with First Sounds have been able to play a performance from April 9, 1860 captured by a device called a phonautograph The device made a paper record of sound waves using soot from an oil lamp, guided by a diaphragm, which moved to the sound.
Phonautographs could not be played back in their time; that piece of the recording puzzle wouldn't be put in place until Edison's cylinders more than a decade later. But the First Sounds historians were able to make detailed scans of the phonautograph and hear what they recorded - which was a female voice singing a stretch of "Au Clair de la Lune." This is extremely low-fi sound - don't expect any modern musician save maybe Lou Barlow to start issuing phonautographs - but you don't often get the chance to hear a voice from 1860 singing to you. [Noise Addicts]
Here Comes The Sun
This week I've found more articles about solar power than any other topic. It's everywhere: Oregon's powering a stretch of highway with solar. No pun intended, virtually every retailer under the sun is installing or looking at installing solar panels on their roofs; IKEA's even planning to sell them.
If you've been bitten by the solar bug but aren't sure if panels will pay off (even with a solar barn raising), RoofRay aims to help. The site uses images from Google Maps to estimate how much solar energy you could harness on your roof. [BoingBoing Gadgets]
Code of Conduct, Part 2
You might have caught Virginia and I talking on Tuesday's show about the new code of conduct for Internet providers in other countries that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are drafting. Now the same privacy issues that the code is aimed at addressing are coming up in India. The Wall Street Journal has a piece about a company in India who wants Google to divulge the name of a blogger who they say defamed the company. There's more at Wired.
(Photo by Chuckumentary)
Time for the weekly roundup of great links we call "Here's What's Awesome."
Please hold while my browser transfers me
For those tired of pressing 1 for this option or 2 for that option, GetHuman and its lists of shortcuts to get a live customer service rep on the phone was a huge step forward Fonolo is trying to go a step further. It gives you a web flowchart of a company's phone menu; you click on where you want to go and it presses the 1's for you, calling your phone when it's reached the destination. Beta testing is still going on, but we likely haven't heard the last here. [ReadWriteWeb]
"I just gotta clear my name"
As defendants walk out of the Manhattan criminal courthouse, photojournalist Steven Hirsch walks over with camera in hand and asks what brought them to court that day. Their responses make up Courthouse Confessions, which reads a bit like StoryCorps meets Law and Order. The fact that these folks are coming out of criminal court suggests that, at the very least, there's another side to each story, but that doesn't make them any less compelling. [Mental Floss]
A picture is worth a thousand carbon offsets
Great photos can show how we feel about a moment or an issue - the eyes of Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," and the exuberant kiss on V-J Day by Alfred Eisenstaedt say as much about Depression-era worry and the end of WWII better than words ever could. Now the Prix Pictet aims to choose a photo that will best "bring the message of sustainability to the public." The winner will be announced in October, but you can see all 18 finalists here. [Inhabitat]
What awesome stories and ideas are catching your eyes and ears today? Share a link in the comments.
(Photo by -sel)
Word of Mouth is on the air Monday through Thursday, so on Fridays we take to the blog, to bring you "Here's What's Awesome." The name is tongue-in-cheek, but the links are, well... awesome.
Saving Lives, One Bottle At A Time?
Bill Gates may head the largest charitable foundation ever created, but he's convinced business – or, more accurately, a kind of business-meets-philanthropy he calls “creative capitalism” -- is better-equipped to solve the world's biggest problems than charitable groups could ever be As he told Time this week: “Governments and nonprofit groups have an irreplaceable role in helping [the world's neediest people], but it will take too long if they try to do it alone. It is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor." (Not everyone is convinced; the blog Creative Capitalism features pro and con views on Gates' ideas.) We're not sure if Gates is aware of it, but a campaign proposed by a man named Simon Berry seems to fit the ethos of "creative capitalism" - he suggests using Coca-Cola's commercial distribution network to distribute anti-diarrhea medicine in developing countries. If you can get a Coke in East Africa, the idea goes, you'd be able to get life-saving medicine just as easily. At this point it's not much more than an idea, but it's an idea that's picked up a following on Facebook and has gotten Berry in to meet with Coke officials in Europe. [Inhabitat]
Viruses: Going Mobile
At some point a new kind of communication tech finds its audience and gets its footing, and that moment acts like a green light for spammers and virus writers. Wireless devices appear to be next on the hit list, and that brings up an interesting conundrum for Apple, whose fans have touted the Mac's apparent resistance to viruses. The working theory has been that nobody bothered to write viruses for Macs because the PC's market share was so much higher – write a PC virus and you can make more of the computer world burn. But in the mobile world, the iPhone is a big dog. [ReadWriteWeb]
To the Beemobile!
When bees leave home base, they travel and forage in a way that makes it harder for predators to find their nest. Interestingly enough, so do serial killers. Researchers in the UK have been studying bees' “buffer zones” to refine a computer model that predicts where a criminal suspect might call home. [NewScientist]
Well, blow me down
With the financial and environmental costs of energy on so many minds, the wind power industry seems poised for growth. But first they need some technicians to run the turbines. This article says wind companies are recruiting techs who are still in school. [MSNBC]
Walk, Don't Run
WalkScore ranks major American cities by "walkability" and gives you a chance to see how walkable your own neighborhood is. Word of Mouth HQ is ranked Very Walkable, with many amenities within a quarter mile, though we should note that some of these "walks" would require some hiking down highways. [WalkScore.com]
(Photo by Vitor Sá - Virgu)
Word of Mouth is on the air Monday through Thursday, so on Fridays we'll bring you more WoM goodness online, with a new feature we're calling "Here's What's Awesome." We'll share a handful of links that caught our eyes during the week; we hope you'll share even more links in the comments.
Off we go!
*Number munchers: A new study from the University of Oregon suggests worms use calculus to find food. Or, more precisely, worms track food sources by the rate of change in what they're tasting. If they sense more food in a certain direction, they're more likely to move in that direction. (LiveScience)
*Does everyone stare the way I do: A new DVD set in Japan features women staring at the screen, saying and doing virtually nothing. The producers say this is a way to encourage men with limited social skills to get used to interacting with people. But the "people" on these DVD's are models and Japanese media personalities, so the goal is as much to make shy men into fans as much as social animals. (clast)
*Pedal power: High gas prices have many people rethinking just how much vehicle they need. That's meant a big increase in scooter sales. In Europe and China, electric bikes like the Giant Twist Freedom DX have been a way to travel greener without sacrificing much mobility. Now the producers of "pedelecs" are hoping to popularize them in the US: (ScientificAmerican)
*It's all Pepe, all the time: In Haiti, "pepe" is one of several terms used to refer to secondhand clothes sent from abroad, mostly from the US. The short documentary Secondhand (Pepe) shows that even something as seemingly simple as sending extra clothes to Haiti, a country with huge levels of poverty, has unexpected implications for Haiti's economy, environment and culture. (inhabitat)
Now it's your turn: share an awesome trend, invention, piece of art or question with us in the comments.
(Photo by arquera)
Banner illustration courtesy hartboy via Flickr/Creative Commons